Upon returning to civil life I entered business in London with the North British and Mercantile Insurance Company and after eighteen months of successes and failures I decided in June, 1921, that I would like to return to flying again, and accepted a short service commission in the British Royal Air Force for four years with the colors and four years on the reserve. I was gazetted to No. 25 Single Seater Fighting Squadron, which was stationed at my old Aerodrome at Folkstone and equipped with the single seater Sopwith snipe. In August of the same year I was placed under orders at very short notice for service in India, but unfortunately owing to the situation in Ireland at that time and the fact that our little daughter Pat was scarcely 3 months old, I was reluctantly compelled to resign my commission. I therefore left the Royal Air Force and returned to business once more.

On the outbreak of the Civil War in Ireland in 1922, shortly after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, I immediately offered my services to the government of my country and was appointed to a commission with the rank of Lieutenant in the new Irish Free State Army Air Corps. In September, 1922, I was posted to Fermoy Aerodrome, County Cork, from which center we operated against the Irregular Forces in the south of Ireland. Our duties consisted mainly in reconnaissance, observation train escort duty and cooperation with infantry. During my service in this area I had many narrow escapes through forced landings in areas not occupied by troops. In addition I experienced the delights and thrills of being ambushed on more than one occasion whilst driving through the country on motor transport.

The most exciting of these experiences occurred in October, 1922. The Government declared a general amnesty to the Irregular Forces offering a free pardon to those who would surrender their arms by a certain date. My unit was called upon to distribute these amnesty proclamation circulars over the mountains of West Cork and County Kerry in order to bring the notice to the attention of those who might fail to see it in the newspapers.

One Saturday morning I set out from my aerodrome at Fermoy in a single seater Martinsyde Scout aeroplane powered with a 300 horsepower Hispano Suiza engine, carrying a large load of these amnesty proclamation circulars, made up in bundles of 50, to be distributed over the Kerry Mountains. Upon arrival over the mountainous district outside Ireland's most famous beauty spot, Killarney, my engine failed and I was compelled to make a forced landing. I landed safely in a small field outside the Killarney Lunatic Asylum. I worked on my engine all Saturday and had everything all ready to get off late on Sunday evening. Killarney was at this time completely isolated, as the telephone wires connecting it with the outside world had all been destroyed and wireless had not at that time been installed in the town. In addition the town was completely surrounded by strong columns of Irregular Forces. It was therefore impossible to send any communication to my aerodrome regarding my forced landing. They were very anxious regarding my safety and had search parties from every garrison town searching the hills for me.

On Sunday evening at about 5 o'clock, with the aid of some local troops, I started my engine, and being given a flying start, managed to stall over some large pine trees at the end of the field. I was beginning to consider myself exceptionally lucky at being safely in the air again when I was greeted with strong bursts of machine gun fire from members of Irregulars who had been waiting for me to hop off. The wings and fuselage of my machine were riddled with bullets, but fortunately neither myself nor any vital part of the engine or machine was hit. By nightfall I succeeded in reaching the town of Mallow, about 18 miles away from my aerodrome, but here again, owing to engine trouble, I was compelled to effect a forced landing about two miles outside the town. On examining the engine the following day it was discovered that the machine could only be flown out of the field by installing a new engine, but as the roads were absolutely impassable at that time owing to trees having been felled in many places across the road and all bridges being destroyed it was decided to dismantle the machine and store it in the military barracks for the time being.

This work having been completed, I set out by car for my aerodrome at Fermoy. Upon arrival in the village of Castletownroache, about halfway between Fermoy and Mallow, it was necessary to leave the car for the purpose of placing large planks across a destroyed bridge to drive the car over. It was practically dark at this time and whilst walking down the village street towards the bridge in company with a despatch rider, fire was opened on us at a distance of about 20 yards by a gentleman armed with the famous American Thompson portable machine gun. We escaped in some miraculous manner from being hit, but became involved in a fight with about 200 Irregulars, which lasted about an hour and a half. We were exceedingly fortunate in getting away and returned safely to Mallow that night. The next day an aeroplane came from my aerodrome and I flew back to Fermoy.

Not so long afterwards I had another thrilling experience and a narrow escape from being shot. I was returning to my aerodrome after searching the West Cork Mountains for a Rolls Royce Whippet armored car which had been treacherously handed over to the Irregular Forces by a Scotchman who was then serving in the National Army. My instructions were to bomb the car should I discover it in the mountains, in order to render it useless. My search was thorough but futile. Whilst flying towards the City of Cork my engine suddenly stopped over a very mountainous district divided up into very small fields surrounded with thick hedge rows. I however managed to land safely to discover that my troubles were only commencing, as the district in which I had landed was the headquarters of a very strong Irregular column. Having unstrapped the service rifle, which I always carried on the side of my machine for use in emergencies of this description, I proceeded to the village, where I ascertained that the nearest military post was four miles away at the Halfway House near Kinsale Junction.

In the meantime quite a number of people had gathered about my machine, and upon returning five minutes later it did not take me long to discover that their main purpose in life was to obliterate the Irish Free State aerial steed and make my life an exceedingly miserable one. Being alone I wondered how I might best safeguard my machine until I could manage to reach the military barracks and secure an appropriate guard.

Several of the more valiant yokels were threateningly waving their shovels and hoe handles. The moment for action had arrived. Assuming my best Irish accent—which had been somewhat impaired by many years in the English Service—I warned them that at any moment the airplane was liable to explode. I noticed an immediate lack of interest on the part of the onlookers to further investigate the airplane, and taking this as my cue I hurried back to the village, hoping to be able to purloin a bicycle or other form of conveyance to cover the four miles which separated me from the military post.

Immediately my intentions became known every push bicycle was hidden away. I decided that I could not waste any further time, so entered the nearest farmyard, searched the stables for a useful horse, but did not meet with very much success, as the only thing available was a heavy young plough horse with an extremely sharp back. No saddle was available, so I rode him bareback to the Halfway House. It was now getting dusk and I cannot help thinking that I presented an extraordinary spectacle galloping along the road on this noble charger attired in a flying helmet and goggles and carrying a rifle at the trail on my right hip. Everything went well until I reached the outskirts of the military post, where a barricade had been erected across the road as a protective measure by the troops occupying the post. The sentry on duty was no doubt scared out of his life upon seeing such an apparition charging towards his post and did what any ordinary fellow would do under the circumstances, fired point blank at me three times and, possibly thanks to his fright, missed me.

Dear old Nellie, or whatever the young plough horse's name might be, seemed somewhat taken aback at the welcome we received from the sentry, while I myself presented a delightful target for further potshots. I have since learned from the members of the Garrison, who watched the procedure with some rare delight, that I did a royal "Prince of Wales" over the horse's neck; but I maintain that my position required immediate action and that I threw myself upon the road to prevent a continuance of the delightful welcome that was awarded me. While my full-blooded Irish plough horse was careening across the landscape I managed to convince the sentry that I had serious intentions of entering his camp and speaking with the Commander of the Post.

In less time than it takes to tell, a party of Troopers on bicycles arrived at the scene of my forced landing. Flames were issuing from the cockpit and also from underneath the engine cowling. It appeared that some hostile Irish country gentleman had placed large dry gorse bushes in the cockpit and underneath the engine cowling and had set them alight. Fortunately the petrol did not set fire, and we succeeded in putting out the conflagration, thus saving the machine. The aeroplane was later dismantled and transported by road back to my aerodrome at Fermoy.

Early in 1923 I was promoted to the rank of Captain and appointed to the command of the detachment stationed at Fermoy Aerodrome. The Civil War was now drawing to a close, as practically every town and village in the south of Ireland was occupied by military forces and the Irregulars found it impossible to continue their operations. Active service units were no longer necessary and we were enabled at last to concentrate on the organization, establishment and training of the present Free State Army Air Corps. Owing to the small size of the whole corps it was decided to withdraw all units to the headquarters of the corps at Baldonnel Aerodrome, to which I returned with my unit early in 1924.

Upon arrival in Baldonnel I was appointed Officer in Charge of No. 1 Training Squadron and Chief Instructor to the corps. I carried out the duties of this appointment until September, 1925, when my immediate Commanding Officer and great personal friend, Major T. J. Moloney, was killed during the maneuvers which are held annually. In order to fill the vacancy which occurred through his unfortunate death I was appointed second in command of the Corps and promoted to the rank of Commandant. I carried out the duties of this appointment until early in October, 1926, when I was appointed to the Command of the Corps after the transfer of my Commanding Officer, Colonel Charles F. Russell, to Army General Headquarters. I have been employed in this capacity to date.

At the conclusion of the Civil War in 1923 I found the dull routine of ordinary peace-time service very boring and monotonous and therefore searched around for some new field which, whilst producing a certain amount of thrills and excitement, would at the same time aid in the progress and development of the great science of aviation. My mind immediately turned to the wonderful flight carried out in 1919 by the late Sir John Alcock and Sir Arthur Whitten Brown from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Ireland. I thought that the first flight in the opposite direction should start from Ireland and that such a flight should be carried out by Irishmen.

Once this idea entered my mind I devoted practically my whole attention to a study of the engines, aeroplanes, and instruments which would be suitable for a flight of this magnitude. I also made an intensive study of the subject of aerial navigation over the ocean and particularly meteorological conditions over the North Allan--tie Ocean. In 1924 I was convinced that a flight from Ireland to the American continent was a feasible proposition with the aircraft engines and instruments available for such work at that time.

Early in 1925, with the able assistance of my then Commanding Officer, Colonel Charles F. Russell, I succeeded in raising the sum of eleven thousand pounds to finance a flight to the American continent. Owing, however, to the fact that the Air Corps was in course of development and only a very small number of flying officers being available, the necessary authority to carry out the flight was not granted. We had therefore to abandon the idea, although our paper organization was absolutely complete. In 1926 a further endeavor was made to carry out the projected flight, but for the same reasons as in the previous year, permission could not be granted. In September of 1927, Captain R. H. MacIntosh communicated with me regarding the possibility of utilizing my headquarters aerodrome as a taking-off ground for a transatlantic flight. Every possible facility was offered him and he arrived on the Aerodrome a few days on the Fokker Monoplane "Princess Xenia."

He invited me to join him as co-pilot, which invitation was gladly accepted by me, and I succeeded in obtaining leave of absence for the purpose of accompanying him on the flight. All our tests were carried out at Baldonnel Aerodrome and after many days of anxious waiting a fairly good weather report of conditions over the Atlantic was received from the British Air Ministry Meteorological Department and we decided to leave on the following morning.

We took off at 1 P.M. on the 16th day of September, but after reaching a point between four and six hundred miles off the west coast of Ireland, flying all the time through the most impossible weather, rain, fog and half a gale blowing from the northwest, we decided that it would be insane to continue any further. We therefore turned the machine and made for the Irish Coast. Immediately after turning we decided that as we might have to effect a forced landing immediately upon reaching the coast we should release as much of the petrol as possible to insure against damaging the machine through landing with too heavy a load. We therefore cut the connection of one of the cabin tanks containing between 200 and 250 gallons of petrol. This was poured by means of a rubber connection through a hole in the floor of the cabin of the machine in which the Drift Gauge Bearing Plate was fixed. Owing to the very poor visibility we narrowly escaped flying into the cliffs, where we hit the coast in County Clare. Our difficulties were only now starting, as the west coast of Ireland, being extremely mountainous and rugged, offers very poor landing facilities. It was impossible to get inland over the mountains, as the clouds were sitting right down on top of them and a heavy Scotch mist prevailed. I realized our only possibility was to land on the estuary of the River Shannon. We therefore headed the machine south, keeping as close to the coast as possible. After a lot of difficulty we eventually picked out our destination and were fortunate enough to find that the tide was out. We made a safe landing on the beach at Bealestrand, about five miles from the seaside resort of Ballybunion.

After landing we discovered that the tide was coming in rapidly and that the wheels of the heavy machine were sinking in the soft sand. After three hours of hard work, with the aid of about fifty local peasants, we succeeded in moving the machine up on the main land, where it was securely pegged down for the night. We reached the local hotel saturated to the skin, but happy in the thought that the machine was safe and available for a further attempt during the month should the weather prove kind enough. Unfortunately weather conditions were not suitable so the machine returned to England and I settled down to the organization of a flight, utilizing all the experience I had gained on our unsuccessful endeavor.

I was determined upon seeing an all Irish flight start in the late spring or early summer of the present year, but was seriously handicapped in the endeavor to organize this project through having to attend a senior officer's course of instruction at the Military Academy on the Cur-. ragh Training Camp during the months of Octo bers November and December. Owing to the intensive nature of the course which kept me fully occupied, very little time was available for the organization of the projected flight. Every spare moment and every week end leave was devoted towards this work, but upon my return to my aerodrome at Baldonnel at the end of December I realized that it would be absolutely impossible to have everything ready in time to compete with the many expeditions which were at that time being organized throughout practically the whole of Europe.

On March 26th, Captain Koehl and Baron Von Huenefeld arrived at my headquarters aerodrome on the Junkers Monoplane Bremen ready to start on the East-West Atlantic flight as soon as weather conditions were suitable. After they had been a few days on the aerodrome they invited me through our mutual friend, Mr. Klose, of the North German Lloyd Company, to participate with them in the undertaking. I was, of course, delighted to avail myself of the opportunity and immediately accepted, knowing that the machine was as good as, if not better than, anything which could be prepared for such a flight and that Captain Koehl possessed in a high degree the qualifications which are so essential to the success of any undertaking such as the flight in question.